Ethics scandals have also emanated from the White House. Cabinet appointees Tom Daschle and Tim Geither were both involved in tax scandals before taking office. Daschle didn’t get the appointment, while Geithner, who claimed to have trouble operating his computer tax software, is a key figure in the handling of the nation’s economy. In all, eight separate White House appointees had issues paying taxes, including Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Former “green jobs czar” for the Obama administration, Van Jones, was famously brought down after it was found he that signed a position supporting 9-11 Truthers.
Of course, corruption is a bi-partisan affair. Republicans lost their majority in 2006 on the back of controversies ranging from “Duke” Cunningham and Ted Stevens to Mark Foley. But this time it’s the GOP that stands to benefit from what cynics call business as usual in the nation’s capital.
Republicans need 39 House seats to re-take the majority. As of now, they are in play in at least 65 districts. Even Democrats allow that as many as 70 seats could be up for grabs. If the political climate remains unchanged, and the economy continues to drag, Democrats are almost assured of losing the filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and they may lose the House.
It hardly well augurs well for Democrats’ fortunes this fall that a Democratic president has polarized the country with an unpopular policy agenda. The economy has struggled throughout Obama’s term and the possibility the Bush tax cuts won’t be renewed have made many cynical about the prospects of a short-term recovery. The administration’s signature policy success – the health care overhaul – is now widely unpopular, according to polls. This atmosphere calls to mind the 1994 election, when Republicans took control of the House after three decades by riding a wave of voter discontent with the Democratic majority. That wave looks even larger this time around.
Against this background, the Democrats’ insistence that they truly succeeded in changing the status quo looks utterly divorced from reality. “When I came in, we said, ‘We’ll drain the swamp,’ and we did,” Nancy Pelosi claimed in an interview this weekend. Denial is a standard political strategy. But as the corruption clouds gather over Rangel and Waters, that strategy seems unlikely to spare Democrats from the fate that they delivered to their corruption-tinged Republican predecessors just four years ago.
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